Just like people, dogs need to maintain good dental hygiene in order to maintain optimal health. However, since dogs cannot brush their own teeth, they need their human friends to do it for them. Fortunately, brushing your dog's teeth isn't difficult and, when done properly, can help your dog to live a healthier life.
Why You Should Brush Fido's Teeth
Dogs are incredibly prone to gum disease and simply brushing a dog's teeth once a day can prevent it. Additionally, maintaining good canine dental hygiene can prevent your dog from losing teeth and developing dental bacterial infections, which can spread through the bloodstream. Regular tooth brushing also keeps your dog's breath fresh and clean and prevents the dog from suffering infection-related dental pain.
How Often to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
Although a daily regimen is ideal, it is not completely necessary to keep the dog's teeth healthy and clean. Typically, brushing the dog's teeth several times a week will be sufficient to prevent gum disease and plaque buildup.
How To: Your Guide To Doggie Tooth Brushing
Before you begin brushing your dog's teeth, you will need a few key pieces of equipment. First, you should purchase a toothbrush that is especially designed for dogs. These toothbrushes are longer than human toothbrushes, often featuring a curved handle to reach further back into the dog's mouth and a larger head to accommodate dogs' larger teeth. If you have a small dog breed, you can find a toothbrush specially made to accommodate the dog's small, narrow mouth. Second, you'll need a dog-safe brand of toothpaste. It's not ideal to use human toothpaste when brushing dog's teeth as it can upset a dog's stomach when swallowed. Instead, purchase dog-specific toothpaste from a vet or pet supply store. Once you have these two items, you can get started brushing your pup's teeth.
Prepare the Dog: If you have never brushed your dog's teeth before, you should prepare the dog for the sensation. Before you introduce the brush, practice gently running your finger over your dog's teeth, on the inside of its cheek. Provide plenty of positive reinforcement and a food reward when you are done. When the pooch seems comfortable with this, you can introduce the brush.
Begin Brushing: When you are ready to start with the toothbrush, position yourself at your dog's side. Place one hand under the dog's chin to support the head and use the fingers of that hand to move the dog's cheeks gently out of the way. Put some toothpaste on the brush and focus on cleaning the outer surface of the dog's teeth and gums. Use your fingers to open the dog's mouth slightly and brush the inside surface of the teeth. Keep in mind that dog-specific toothpaste is fine for dogs to swallow and will not upset their stomachs.
Reward Your Dog: Once you have brushed your dog's teeth, be sure to provide plenty of positive reinforcement to let the dog know he has done a great job. Providing ample rewards at the end of every tooth-brushing session ensures your dog will form positive associations with the experience.
Although brushing your dog's teeth may seem intimidating, these simple tips can help you become a pro in no time.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.